Monday, August 13, 2018

Homegrown Sour Beer: Cherry, Raspberry, Blackberry, and Mulberry

I've brewed a surprising number of beers with ingredients grown on our .1 acres of Washington, DC. Including hops, cherries, juniper, ground ivy, mulberries... and recently fermented acorns! Rather than showcase a single ingredient though, I wanted to brew an estate beer with five ingredients grown and harvested on our land!

Aged homegrown Cascade hops in the boil.

The extent of the influence of aged hops on sour beer is still a bit underestimated. While the generally stated goal is preventing rapid souring by Lactobacillus in a traditionally fermented lambic, what they add to the flavor and what particular characteristics of the hops best serve this isn't widely studied. There are a few studies that oxidation can boost certain fruity aromatics. Which has lead Scott to threaten to use old hops on the hot-side for a NEIPA... he promised to do a test batch before brewing a 10 bbl batch on the new Sapwood Cellars brewhouse.

I thought it would be fun to brew with aged Cascades from the bines in my backyard, especially because fresh they didn't have a huge aroma. They'd been sitting open in my basement since they were dried a few years before. 

Flour slurry pouring in.

I don't have the space or effort to grow or malt grain, so I took the easy way out and brewed with wheat malt extract (a blend of 65% wheat malt 35% barley). I'd had good results from extract lambics previously, but this time in addition to maltodextrin I added wheat flour slurry to the boil. Mixing the flour with cold water prevents it from clumping when it touches the boiling wort. A turbid mash pulls starch from the unmalted wheat into the boil, which eventually feeds the various microbes in the late-stages of fermentation. The microbes must have enjoyed it as the resulting beers are completely clear.

All of the frozen berries (cherries, blackberries, raspberries, and mulberries.

Fruit was provided by our four berry trees/bushes. Sour cherry, blackberry, raspberry, and mulberry. To keep things easy I added roughly equal amount of each (other than the raspberries). I briefly froze most of the fruit, but I added the raspberries a small handful at a time as they ripen slower than the rest. I only had enough of each for one gallon of beer, as most of the rest of the fruit was spoken for. The leftover beer went onto local plums!

Video Review



Backyard Berries

Smell – Cherry and raspberry lead, not surprising as they are more distinct than the blackberry and mulberry. There is an underlining wine-iness that likely comes from the rest of the fruit. The base beer behind the fruit doesn't make itself known other than a subtle maltiness.

Appearance – Clear garnet on the first pour, a little haze when I emptied the bottle into the glass. Alright head retention thanks to the wheat.

Taste – Reminds of the nose with raspberry up front and cherry jam into the finish. Not as bright and fresh as it once was, but still reasonably fresh. The malt and hops don’t add a huge amount of character, but they support the fruit. The Wyeast lambic blend similarly stays mostly out of the way, adding edge complexity without trying to fight through the fruit.

Mouthfeel – Not a thick beer given the relatively low OG, and all of the simple sugars from the fruit. Solid carbonation, CBC-1 did a good job despite the acidity.

Drinkability & Notes – The combination of four berries works surprisingly well to my palate. They play together without becoming generic fruitiness. The base beer is unremarkable, but that’s fine in a beer where the fruit is the star.

Changes for Next Time – Would be nice to brew more than a gallon, but otherwise my only real changes would be to go all-grain.

The finished mixed-berry sour beer.

Plum-Bus

The rest of the batch went onto a two varieties of local plums. I've brewed with plums before in a dubbel. I wasn't sure about plums in a pale beer, but after trying spectacular examples from Tilquin and Casey I was convinced!

Smell – Clear it isn’t a kettle-soured fruit-bomb, lots of lemon pith and mineral along with the moderate fruit contribution. Plums aren’t nearly as aromatic as the more common sour beer fruits, but they add a depth without covering up the base beer.

Appearance – Beer is more rusty-gold than purple. Clear despite the flour. Thin white head, but this bottle appears less carbonated than the last few I’ve opened.

Plum sour beer.

Taste – Tangy plum skin, apricot, and lemon. Beautiful blend of fruit and beer. Wyeast Lambic Blend with dreg-augmentation again does a really nice job. Strong lactic acid without any vinegar or nail polish. Finish is moderate funk, hay, and overripe stone fruit.

Mouthfeel – Light, but not thin. Carbonation is too low, maybe the cap-job on this one wasn’t perfect.

Drinkability & Notes – Delicious. The plum could be a little juicier and fresher, but it works well. Sad I didn’t leave any of this half unfruited for comparison.

Changes for Next Time – I’d like to keep experimenting with other plum varieties in beer. Glad the pale base worked out well. Despite “plum” being a common descriptor for darker Belgians, actual plums don’t shine with all of that malt.

Defrosting plums in a 3 gallon Better Bottle.

Recipe

Batch Size: 10.00 gal
SRM: 5.5
IBU: 5.3
OG: 1.046
FG: 1.006/1.006
ABV: 5.25%
Final pH: 3.45/3.45
Boil Time: 90 mins

Fermentables
----------------
92.3% - 9 lbs Breiss Bavarian Wheat DME
5.1% - .5 lbs Maltodextrin Powder
2.6% - .25 lbs King Arthur All Purpose Flour

Hops
-------
2.50 oz - Homegrown Cascade: Aged 3-4 Years (Whole, ~1.00% AA) @ 90 min

Yeast
-------
Wyeast Belgian Lambic Blend
or
Omega OYL-218 - All The Bretts
Omega OYL-057 - HotHead Ale

Notes
-------
Brewed 1/15/17

Hops were homegrown and aged open over several years.

Fermented and aged in 6 gallon BetterBottle without transfering. Added some various dregs over the course of fermentation.

7/21/17 Filled a 1 gallon jug with the Wyeast half onto 6 oz each homegrown sour cherries, blackberries, and mulberries (plus maybe an ounce of raspberries - maybe 4 oz total over a couple months). The remainder went onto 3 lbs of methly plums.

8/24/17 Added an additional 1.75 lbs of Castleton plums to the plum portion

12/14/17 Bottled the 2.75 gallons of the plum with 61 g of table sugar and rehydrated CBC-1. Bottled the .8 gallons of backyard fruit with 21 g of table sugar and CBC-1.

All the fruit growing in my backyard!

Friday, August 3, 2018

Brewery Clubs: Both Sides

The first beer club I joined was Lost Abbey’s Patron Sinners in 2008. It was a relatively novel idea at the time, essentially a CSA for beer. It was the easiest way for me to get bottles I’d heard such wonderful things about. Clearly the concept has caught on. For breweries it is an easy win, money months before the beer is ready. For consumers it can be a win, access to limited beers without the need to wake-up early or wait in line.

It’s an easier ask if the beers offered already have a good reputation. Signing up for Lost Abbey's club meant an opportunity to try "whales" like Cuvee de Tomme for the first time. It also gave me access to their microbes… those Red Poppy dregs colonized our first wine barrel for the group Flanders Red.

For Sapwood Cellars, Scott and I are in a bit of a unique situation. Many more of you have read about our homebrew-exploits, listened to us talk brewing, and brewed recipes based on ours than have actually tasted anything we’ve personally brewed (although you may have tasted something I collaborated or consulted on). Although I've been surprised how many people who signed-up mentioned tasting our test batches at festivals as a deciding factor!

Sapwood-Modern Time Collaboration - The Fruitening!

With the barrel program we have planned there is a bunch on money required now: barrels, racks, microbes, equipment, and wort-production. All for beers that we won’t be able to sell until 2019 or even 2020. If you choose to join, your money will go directly to allowing us to get more beer into barrels in the next few months. That will in turn provide a greater variety of stock available for blending, fruiting, and dry hopping. Our goal is to extend our homebrewing roots as long as we can, producing weird and wonderful beers… and dumping beers that aren’t up to our standards!

I completely understand if you don't want to spend $200-500 to buy beers that we haven't brewed or even named yet. I don't want anyone angering a spouse, or blowing their annual beer budget. Most of our beers will be readily available at the taproom, and I'd guess that there will be extra club slots available for 2020. Honestly I see the Wood club as good for someone who lives a less-than convenient trip to the brewery and can only visit a few times a year (but wants to know they can go home with a variety of sour bottles). The Sap club is good for someone local who plans to be a regular and loves fresh hoppy stuff.

We take the trust that people are putting in us seriously. We'll do our best to make sure that not only do you get beer, but it is the best possible beer we can create. That said, there is certainly a chance timelines will be slower than we expect and I'd rather have the final allocation of great beer in early 2020 than rushed bottles with carbonation issues in late 2019.

If you'd rather an experience over beer, today we launched opportunities to join me for a web chat about our sour beers, blending session, commercial brew day, and homebrewing. Most of these are permanently gone once the stock hits zero. There are also a couple slots for a group or anyone who has recently won the lottery to have us design a sour beer or hoppy batch to your tastes, we'll likely do a few of those each year. We still have plenty of merch available as well (shirts, glasses, and inscribed copies of American Sour Beers) for people who can't make it to the brewery!


We should be able to finally brew our first 10 bbl batch in the next few weeks. The last major piece of equipment to arrive is our glycol chiller, scheduled for next Wednesday. All of the piping is run for it already and the concrete pad it will sit on is curing. Other than that, a gas-meter upgrade and a tweak to the usage listed on a 1979 site development plan are the only things between us and opening!

Our first batch is going to be a kitchen-sink brew using the leftover ingredients from the brewery that was previously in the space. It was crushed 18-months ago… we’ll be giving away the wort to anyone interested! Of course, club members will get first dibs... but I'm guessing there will be second and third dibs at least!

I'm shocked at how amazing the response has already been. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who has helped give us a little extra cash buffer, the beer (and our sleep) will be the better for it! We started with 50 memberships for our Founders Club... and they are all gone! Still plenty of the two individual clubs available for the time being, and we'll leave them up until the 2018 (unless they sell-out first).

---------------------------------

Sap Club 2018-2019

Sap Club Membership entitles you to $1/off each full pour or growler at our tasting room with a sweet membership card. It also allows you to purchase growler fills of any fresh hoppy beers, even the special kegs and weird experiments that no one else can bring home - in your club exclusive 1 L growler. Includes admission for two to our annual holiday party (December 2018) and pre-release access to canned IPAs (when that finally happen). This inaugural “year” of the club will run from opening through the end of 2019. First-year members will have right of first refusal for membership in the club's next year.

Wood Club 2019

The Wood club is for sour and funky folks. Membership grants you two .5L bottles of each of our first eight barrel-aged sour/funky bottle releases. This will include at least two releases exclusive to club members - using fruits and other ingredients too rare or costly for large batches. We won’t have a set release schedule as the beers will tell us when they are ready, but we'll allow semi-annual pickups. Plus $2 off and priority access to pre-purchase limited sour beers before the unwashed masses! You’ll also receive a Sapwood decanting basket. 2019 members will have right of first refusal for membership in the club's next year.

---------------------------------

In news closer to the blog, Mad Fermentationist T-shirts are available again, this time print-on-demand style. I've also got posters of the updated Brewery Connections graphic... which will feature prominently in the Sapwood Cellars bathroom decor!


Monday, July 23, 2018

Rye NEIPA with Mosaic and Hallertau Blanc

Squeeze that grain bag!If you've followed this blog, you've likely picked-up on my my interest in low-alcohol hoppy beers. For example 3.6% ABV Vienna IPA2.3% Session NEIPA, all the way down to this 2.1% Nelson Wheat-IPA. I'm always looking for new techniques to shoehorn the body, malt flavor, and balance associated with IPAs into a smaller package.

This batch was inspired by a couple of rye-heavy table beer that James Spencer shared with me (video of his process). Rye malt is a powerhouse of mouthfeel, and meshes well with hoppy beers. I paired it with Golden Naked Oats in an attempt to infuse more malt flavor and perceived sweetness.

For a grain bill with more beta glucan than husk the only option is brew in a bag (BIAB)... or start buying rice hulls by the sack. I further enhanced the malt flavor by using a 165F (74C) mash to allow me to add more grain without increasing the ABV. Add to that a quick 30 minute boil, and it was an easy brew day.

I've used Mosaic many times, but Hallertau Blanc only once in this Alsatian Saison. I've always associated the flavors I get from these two varieties with that of Nelson Sauvin. It all made sense when I read all three contain the same thiol 3S4MP, which is also a signature of Sauvignon blanc wine and provides a grapefruit-rhubarb aroma. With the increasing demand for Nelson, it made sense to see if the other two in combination could serve as a passable replacement.

The old laptop I wrote American Sour Beers on...As if this beer didn't need another twist, it was my first time attempting to use sound waves to speed dry hop extraction. I'm not the first one to pump decibels into beer (Cambridge Brewing, Green Man, and Baladin all have), but I'm not aware of anyone doing it specifically for dry hopping. When you add pellets they have a tendency to either float, or sink to the bottom. Either way it isn't ideal for extraction. Playing 80 Hz through an old USB speaker  vibrated the BrewBucket pretty well, hopefully increasing the beer-hop contact. Hard to know how much it accomplished without a control...

Look for my Brew Your Own article about Table Beers in the October issue where I go more into depth on this batch and an ESB that I mashed at 70F!

Rye Table Pale Ale (RTPA) 

Smell – Good Nelson-reminiscent gooseberry Sauvignon blanc wininess from the hops. Herbal notes too from the Hallertau Blanc. Without the alcohol as a vector for the dry hops, the aroma doesn’t pop - or maybe the sound waves drove out CO2 and aromatics with it. A light graininess fills in the gaps in the hop aroma.

Appearance – Hazy without particulate after three weeks cold. Ultra-pale, almost looks like a cloudy Berliner weisse. Head retention is pretty good for such a small beer, but the bubbles are bigger and less stable than the dense foam of my NEIPAs.

Taste – Hop flavor is stronger than the nose. Similar white wine flavors, but with a subtle berry flavor from the Mosaic. Mid-palate is a tad lacking in terms of malt flavor, but the hops linger into the finish covering for it. Bitterness is present, but restrained, just about right for this lean beer. Tastes like beer rather than a malt soda.

Mouthfeel – The body is remarkable for a beer under 2% ABV - a friend called it "creamy" in a blind tasting. Moderate carbonation doesn’t disrupt.

Drinkability & Notes – I’m not sure I’ve brewed a beer that I want to drink more of in a session. One of those that doesn’t wow unless you know what is special about it.

Changes for Next Time – Would be interesting to add some light crystal malt and/or Vienna to try to increase the malt flavor. The body is there. For the hops I might go 2:1 in favor of Mosaic and add a second dry hop to try to enhance the aroma.

Recipe

Batch Size: 5.50 gal
SRM: 5.6
IBU: 44.5
OG: 1.029
FG: 1.015
ABV: 1.84%
Final pH: 4.52
Brewhouse Efficiency: 73%
Boil Time: 30 Mins

Fermentables
-----------------
72.4% - 5.25 lbs Briess Rye Malt
27.6% - 2.0 lbs Simpsons Golden Naked Oats

Mash
-------
Mash In - 45 min @ 165F

Hops
-------
2.00 oz Hallertau Blanc (Pellets, 10.50% AA) @ 185F for 30 min Whirlpool
2.00 oz Mosaic (Pellets, 12.25% AA) @ 185F for 30 min Whirlpool
2.00 oz Hallertau Blanc (Pellets, 10.50% AA) @ Dry Hop Day 2
2.00 oz Mosaic (Pellets, 12.25% AA) @ Dry Hop Day 2

Water
-------
10 g Calcium Chloride @ Mash
3 tsp Phosphoric Acid 10% @ Mash

Calcium
Chloride
Sulfate
Sodium
Magnesium
Carbonate
100
170
30
10
5
40

Other
-------
.5 Whirlfloc Tablet @ 5 min

Yeast
-------
SafAle English Ale S-04

Notes
-------
Brewed 6/9/18 with Spencer (Sapwood's tasting room manager)

BIAB.

Mashed with 4 gallons distilled, 2 gallons of DC tap.

Topped up with 2 gallons of DC and .5 gallons of distilled.

Cool to 185F for 30 whirlpool addition.

Chilled to 75F. Moved to fridge set to 45 for a few hours to cool. Pitched at 62F, set to 68F to allow to warm.

Dry hopped after 48 hours. Hit with 80 hz for 24 hours immediately after adding hops.

Kegged 6/15/18 FG 1.014, 52% AA (1.84% ABV).

I get a commission if you buy something after clicking the links to MoreBeer/Amazon/Adventures in Homebrewing/Great Fermentations!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Craft Beer Connections - Brewery Influence Web

The newest version of the graphic can be seen here!

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On Friday I posted a visualization of the connections between the ownership of American breweries, both craft and macro. I was inspired by this graphic of American food companies and leaned heavily on existing aggregations. The response was enthusiastic. Between Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit it was viewed ~150,000 times, plus being featured in a Paste Magazine article.


However, it's the Internet so of course there were complaints:

- You're missing (insert recently sold or Canadian brewery)!

- You're lumping in total ownership with partial!

- List the rest of the 124 AB InBev owned breweries!

- That brewery is closed now!

- That logo is for the 7 Bridges in Da Nang, not Jacksonville!

I spent far too many hours over the weekend correcting, tweaking, and expanding the graphic to address many of those issues. Thanks to those who created other sources I could use as source material (/u/Hraes' spreadsheet, Craft Beer Joe, Philip H Howard, and of course Wikipedia).

Any visualization is a balancing act of information and intelligibility. My first version was likely too simple to provide any deep understanding of the complex web of brewery ownership... while the updated version may be so complex that it is overwhelming (and that's still without 108 AB Inbev brands).


Feel free to let me know if I missed anything. I intentionally left-off private equity firms that own a piece of a single craft brewery (e.g., BrueryStone). I'm sure that there are other conglomerations outside the US that didn't come to mind. It's already starting to look like one of those crazy conspiracy diagrams, so I'm not sure how much more I could add.

With this many complex relationships it is difficult to be completely accurate while maintaining legibility... especially when it comes to unique situations and convoluted relationships. So here it is without distinguishing different levels of ownership.



If you're reading this after July, 2018 don't expect the graphic above to be up-to-date. Obviously no rights other than fair-use claimed on the brewery logos.

I didn't start working on this with the goal of changing what beers people drink. I don't refuse to buy beer from "sellout" breweries... but all-else equal, I'd rather my dollars didn't go to a company that uses its size to muscle small craft breweries off the store shelf or tap list (for example). It's the same reason I stopped shopping at Northern Brewer and Midwest. In that regard there is a big difference between breweries owned by AB InBev, and to a lesser extend Molson-Coors, compared to those owned by CANarchy and Duvel-Moortgat. Even with those though, I'd rather support a small brewery where the money goes back into the brewery, rather than a private equity firm or international conglomerate.

Independent craft beer isn't always delicious. Wide-scale distribution of delicate beers takes both skilled brewers and a level of packaging and distribution channels that many small breweries don't have funding for. That said, I'm not going to buy an insipid or uninspired beer simply because it has a low-level of DO (dissolved oxygen) and an absence of diacetyl and acetaldehyde. There are enough great beers available that I don't need to sacrifice on quality or consistency!

Here is an interesting piece on the Old Dominion-Fordham relationship with AB InBev. Jim Lutz, CEO: "In the years I’ve been here I’ve only met with the AB InBev people twice..." I was fond of Old Dominion before they were acquired in 2007. The first noticeable change was that the tasting room went from smoke-free to smoking permitted. Pretty quickly they closed the brewery in Ashburn, VA and moved production to Fordham's facility in Delaware. The old head brewer didn't follow (he, along with the equipment, became Lost Rhino). I may be out of the loop, but I remember Old Dominion producing a few interesting beers (like their Millennium barleywine aged in barrels... and even a version with Brett). Now all I see from them are pin-up girl logos and uninspired beers. Whether that is the result of AB InBev or the brewery itself doesn't change many of the reasons I don't buy their beers.

While the Brewers Association had to draw a line somewhere for what is craft, I don't find anything special about the 25% non-craft brewery ownership definition. What really matters is the relationship between the brewery and ownership. How much control of the beers is put into the hands of marketing or accounting? What sorts of incentives/investments are there for brewing innovation versus sales growth. Are resources primarily used to increase consistency/quality, or reduce costs? In the past BA has been all too happy to raise the barrels-per-year cap for Boston Beer, even though producing ~4,000,000 bbls/year as a publicly-traded company owned by a billionaire puts their trade-group needs much closer to a macro brewer than it does mine as a ~1,000 bbl/year start-up brewery.

We're at an interesting time in the growth of craft beer, hopefully the visualization helps illustrate that! 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Buckwheat Saison with Cashmere Hops

Shaking the wort to introduce oxygen.The Bootleg Biology isolated version of my house Brett-saison culture is available for the next few days, so I decided to hustle to write this post featuring my OG blend... especially because after I just quit my day job of the last 12 years with the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Gotta get that yeast money until Sapwood Cellars is up and running!

I'm a bad microbe owner. I don't do well when I have to keep a culture going with regular feedings. Whether it was kombucha, ginger beer plant, or sourdough eventually whatever the yeast or bacteria it ends up in the fridge, ignored until I toss it. My house saison culture was getting close, having sat in a growler for nearly seven months since the Juniper-El Dorado Saison. Luckily, years of neglect and mistreatment have selected for only the hardiest bugs...

Wort from the buckwheat saison... a bit gray.This batch was a bit of a cupboard raid. I had two bags of Arrowhead Mills buckwheat flour that I impulse-bought on sale. A few years ago, I brewed a sour amber ale with buckwheat (milled and pre-boiled) with good results. Buckwheat contains caprylic acid, which there is some chance Brett converts to pineapple-scented ethyl caprylate. It also seems to have the same beer-darkening effect as oats when I left this batch exposed to the air (despite much lower oxidation-catylizing manganese - 1.3 mg/100g vs. 4.3 mg for oats). On the mouthfeel-side, the two contain a similar amount of beta glucans according to this study.

I didn't love the "whole wheat dishwater" gray color of the wort, but it looks great now that it is finished!

I also had a pound of Cashmere hops in the freezer untouched from my last bulk order. They are a relatively recent hybrid of Cascade and Northern Brewer. They seemed like a potential candidate for a NEIPA hop-blend, with positive descriptors of tropical, citrus (including lemongrass), peach, and coconut. I've enjoyed several hop-forward beers with this blend (e.g. New Zealan' Saison). So I added a large dose at flame-out as the sole hop addition.

Despite pitching the yeast directly from the fridge (to avoid gushing), the they woke up in a hurry. By the next day the head was thick enough that it looked more like bread dough than beer. Even if you don't need the culture immediately, clearly it can handle a few months in your fridge!

I decided to leave half the batch as is (currently naturally conditioning in the keg) while the Cashmere dry-hopped half is on tap force-carbonated.

Indian-Subcontinent Saison

Smell – Nice blend of citrusy top-notes plus earthy base from the buckwheat and saison yeast. I don’t get coconut specifically from the hops, but there is richness to the aroma. At less than a month old the Brett isn’t bold, but it doesn't smell completely clean.

Appearance – GLOWING. The ultra-pale base really lets the light into the hazy body. Anti-gravity head retention.

Taste – Grapefruit, melon, faint spices, and a hint of pancake batter. Slight bitterness from the whirlpool addition, no real acidity. The yeast pepperiness isn't as strong as a classic saison, which is one of the things that makes this culture work well with fruitier hops. Not as dry as saisons (including this blend) usually are, not sure if that is poor conversion of the flour or unhealthy yeast.

Mouthfeel - Saisons around 5% ABV are often thin, but thanks to the high FG and the beta glucans from the buckwheat this one has some of the softness of a NEIPA. The carbonation is still a little low, which contributes to that impression as well. That will likely change with more time on gas.

Drinkability & Notes – Saturated with a diverse array of flavors and aromas. Despite the haphazard construction it all actually works. The yeast is subtle enough not to get in the way, and interesting enough to connect the hops and grain. The bigger body makes me forget it is a session beer... especially next to the 2.2% and 1.9% ABV beers on tap now. I'll have to try Cashmere in a cleaner base beer, but a great first impression!

Changes for Next Time – I’ll be interested to taste the non-dry hopped half with more time warm to develop fermentation character. Hopefully the Brett doesn't generate too much carbonation while it is sitting warm. I might go back to whole buckwheat next time to see if that removes some of the "raw" grain notes.

The finished Buckwheat Saison with Cashmere hops.

Recipe

Batch Size: 11.00 gal
SRM: 2.8
IBU: 31.2
OG: 1.047
FG: 1.010
ABV: 5.0%
Final pH: 4.42
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Boil Time: 60 mins

Fermentables
-----------------
87.8% - 18 lbs Briess Pilsen Malt
12.2 % - 2.5  lbs Arrowhead Mills Buckwheat Flour

Mash
-------
Mash In - 45 min @ 150F

Hops
-------
Whole Batch
8.00 oz Cashmere (Pellets 8.50 % AA) - 30 min Steep/Whirlpool Hop

Half Batch
3.00 oz Cashmere (Pellets 8.50 % AA) - Dry Hop @ Day 3

Water
-------
10.00 g Calcium Chloride @ Mash
10.00 g Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) @ Mash

Calcium
Chloride
Sulfate
Sodium
Magnesium
Carbonate
120
100
140
15
10
90

Other
-------
3.00 tsp Phosphoric Acid 10% @ Mash
0.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient  @ 10 mins
1 Whirlfloc Tablet @ 5 min

Yeast
-------
Mad Fermentationist Saison Blend

Notes
-------
Brewed 6/16/18

All DC tap water, carbon filtered. Wort looked a little gray and gloppy thanks to the buckwheat initially. Cleaned up pretty nicely with the boil.

Chilled to 75F, shook to aerate, pitched decanted house saison blend straight from the fridge (harvested seven months earlier... from the juniper El Dorado saison).

Left at 75F ambient to ferment.

6/19/18 Dry hopped half.

6/30/18 Kegged at 1.010. Force carbed for the dry hopped half, 2.5 oz of table sugar for the non-dry hopped half.

Nice looking head!

I get a commission if you buy something after clicking the links to MoreBeer/Amazon/Adventures in Homebrewing/Great Fermentations!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Carbonating Water: Making Seltzer at Home

Pouring a glass of carbonated water from the tap!The only dedicated tap on our kegerator is the one for carbonated water. All beverages are marked up when you buy them by the serving rather than in bulk, but carbon dioxide dissolved in water is one of the most egregious. Making 5 gallons at home costs less than a dollar. When it comes to bottles, smaller is better because after opening the bubbles begin to escape. Having it on tap ensures the water is always ideally carbonated, and wonderfully cold (especially compared to our 75F/24C summertime tap water).

Seltzer, sparkling water, fizzy water, and bubbly water are synonyms, referring to water with carbon dioxide bubbles. In the US, "mineral" water is required to have 250 parts per million total dissolved solids (TDS), usually from a natural spring. Club soda or soda water is similar, but usually has the minerals added to it. Adding quinine (from cinchona tree bark) would turn it into tonic water. I don't think there is any need to get technical when making your own.

Luckily the process to carbonated water at home couldn't be simpler, if you already have a kegerator. Fill a keg with good tasting water (e.g., carbon-filtered tap water, reverse osmosis) and connect to a CO2 tank. Set your regulator for between 20-30 PSI, depending on how strong you want the bubbles to be. Once the keg is connected vent the head-space and then let the water chill and the CO2 infuse. To speed things up, once the water is chilled, you can shake the keg to speed up the absorption of the gas. Cold water can hold onto CO2 much easier, so you're wasting your time to shake room temperature water.

We add a small dose of chalk (calcium carbonate) to move our tap water closer to the profile of Perrier. Chalk doesn't readily dissolve at water's roughly neutral pH, but it is happy to once there is carbonic acid in solution. This is essentially the same thing that happens with acid rain meets limestone, the carbonic acid dissolved in the rain eats away at the calcium carbonate in the rock.

My Treated Water

Calcium
Chloride
Sulfate
Sodium
Magnesium
Carbonate
150
30
50
15
10
250

Perrier
Calcium
Chloride
Sulfate
Sodium
Magnesium
Carbonate
160
19
30
9.6
4.3
366

The calculator on this site includes many more profiles if you have a favorite mineral water.

If you are a fan of flavored seltzers like Polar or La Croix, you could add a small dose of a natural flavoring of your choice. It is best to dose a glass to taste and then scale up, a little goes a long way when it comes to these super-concentrated "natural" flavorings like those from Amoretti. You can also use actual natural ingredients like citrus peel. In that case I'd remove those after hanging them in the keg for a day or two. If you stick with plain water there is no need to clean or sanitize between fills, but with strong flavors you may need to clean if you are switching flavors.

This post is also available in video form on my YouTube channel.